Editor’s note: The term religion is used here for simplicity reasons to refer only to the dominant, especially Western, dogmatic, organized religions, and doesn’t imply the esoteric religious traditions that do have positive things to contribute to the world.
In the esoteric teachings of all religions one can find amazing pearls of wisdom and guides towards living a good, loving, compassionate, beautiful life. However, when religion becomes organized and dogmatic, with its esoteric aspect being ignored, it can fill one’s life with shame, hatred, misery, and immense existential anguish.
Here are 8 signs that you may be heavily indoctrinated by religion, presented with the intention to make you reconsider your beliefs and alter your way of living, in case you experience any of them in your life.
1. You despise your body. Most of the dominant religions view the body as something bad or evil, which is keeping us away from the spiritual world. Not surprisingly, the majority of people indoctrinated by religion despise their body, and as a result they don’t take good care of it.
2. You repress sex. Fundamentalist religions condemn sex, because it is an act of flesh, and hence anti-god. They say that sex can only be practiced for procreational purposes, and that we should not find joy in it, since physical pleasure is deemed as sin. But how can sex be a sin when it is the very energy that brought us into existence? We were all birthed into life through the sexual act and every expression of ourselves is in fact an expression of sexual energy, taking different forms. Therefore, to see sex as evil means to see yourself and the whole existence as evil, a belief that can only mess up with your life.
3. You feel ashamed. According to the majority of the big, Western religious traditions, humans are born sinners, and they will stay sinners until they are found worthy enough to enter heaven. This belief is making many people who are indoctrinated by religious dogma to feel ashamed of themselves and hate their very being. Trapped in an emotional prison, they can’t live care-free and in joy.
4. You suppress your emotions. Expressing our emotions is healthy, except when it’s done in a way that harms ourselves and those around us. Religious people, wanting to appear good in the eyes of god by following blindly the doctrines of religious scriptures, don’t express their emotions, especially when they think that those are negative, such as the emotion of anger. Trying to appear saintly and good, they don’t speak out their mind and heart, and as a result they develop all sorts of psychological issues, ranging from neurosis to psychosis.
5. You believe that you’re always being watched. A clear sign of being heavily indoctrinated by religion is to think that there is an actual personality somewhere inside or outside the universe, who is ever-present and all-knowing, always observing and judging you for each and every thing you do. Feeling that you are always being watched, you cannot be calm, relaxed and spontaneous. On the contrary, you are in constant fear, trembling before every action you perform, every word you utter, and every thought you think, lest you will be send to damnation.
6. You take pleasure in humiliation. Many religiously indoctrinated people think that humility, which for them means self-shame, self-doubt, and the feeling that they are inferior beings, is a human trait that is favored by god, and take pleasure in being humiliated. They constantly create hell out of their lives, and don’t differ much from pathological masochists.
7. You are not tolerant. There are so many religious and philosophical ideologies coming from different cultures and traditions, but indoctrinated religious people believe that only their own ideology is the supreme one and they not only don’t tolerate other ideologies, but most of the time they don’t even tolerate the people who hold them. They become hateful and envious toward those with a different religious orientation, feeling that their well-being is threatened by them. In addition, many who are heavily indoctrinated by religion don’t tolerate those who defy social norms, such as homosexuals, often finding pleasure in the thought such individuals might burn in eternal hell.
8. You find it hard to love. I’m not a Christian, but I like a sentence found in the Bible, which is said to have been uttered by Jesus: “god is love.” But how can a person who feels ashamed of his or her very existence, despises his or her body, suppresses his or her thoughts and emotions, and is filled with fear, anger, and hatred, love himself or herself? And how can a person who doesn’t love himself or herself, love his or her fellow beings? It is simply impossible, for the world is just an outer projection of what is going on within our psyche, and hence if we hate ourselves, we are bound to hate the world. In order to share love, one first needs to have love–or rather, to be love.
Image credit: Joe Badon
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